Definition of Bond Rating
Bond Rating is an alphabet based scoring system through which the financial creditworthiness of financial instruments such as Bonds is analyzed on multiple quantitative and qualitative factors and presented to potential investors. Bond Rating act as one of the important factors in decision making to make an investment decision. A Higher Bond rating is always a good sign of the financial strength of the Issuer and results in better Interest pricing for the Issuer and good safety net for the subscribers.
Bond Rating involves an independent assessment of the creditworthiness of the issuer related to a specific issuance of fixed Income Instruments such as Bonds by an independent rating agency. Based on the assessment which is both undertaken in qualitative and quantitative terms an alphabetic rating is assigned to the Bond Issue such as AAA, AA, etc. which thereby acts as a mechanism for pricing interest rates on such bond instruments. The higher the rating lower the interest rate due to the inherent low risk and lower the rating such as BB and below higher the interest rate the issuer has to pay due to the inherent high risk taken by the subscriber.
How do Bond Ratings Work?
Bond Ratings work in synchronization with the ratings assigned and issuer financial credibility. Bond ratings led to the classification of Bond into Investment grade (ratings from AAA to BBB) and Non-Investment grade (BB & below ratings). Many Funds invest only in Investment-grade Bonds and as such bond rating falling in that category makes them qualified for such investment. Bonds rating in non-investment grade carries a high risk of default and as such carries high-interest payout by the issuer to compensate for the extra risk of default undertaken by the investor.
Normally whenever an Issuer plans to issue Bonds in the securities market it is compulsorily required to get credit ratings from the registered rating agencies which evaluate such issuance of Bonds on various qualitative and quantitative parameters to determine the relative safety of investments in such Bond issue and based on the same a Bond Rating is assigned.
It is important to note that Bond Ratings imply meaning both on a standalone basis as well as on a relative basis; however, the interest pricing is always compared by investors on a relative basis. For instance, an Investor would demand a higher interest rate invest in a Bond Instrument with a “BBB” rating compared to a Bond Instrument with an “AAA” rating due to the higher amount of safety associated with “AAA” rated paper compared to a “BBB” rated paper.
How is Bond Rating Calculated?
Bond Rating is calculated by applying various quantitative and qualitative factors to arrive at the rating score which is then mapped to rating grade in alphabet format. Usually, the quantitative and qualitative factor includes analyzing Management Risk, Financial Risk, Industry Risk as well as an overall economic risk. These risk factors are further subdivided into various risk factors which are scored both on quantitative and qualitative factors to arrive at scores for each risk factor broadly and further aggregated to arrive at a total score which is then mapped with the rating range.
Bond Rating Chart
The Bond Rating chart depicts the different ratings assigned by the rating agencies globally. Globally there are three major rating agencies namely Moody’s, Standard and Poor (S&P), and Fitch which is discussed in the below section. The Bond Rating Chart assigned to Bond Instruments is depicted below:
|Fitch||Moodys||Standard & Poor||Investment and Non-Investment Grade Classification|
Bond Rating Agencies
The most popular Bond Rating agencies with a global footprint are as follows:
- Moody’s: Globally acclaimed rating agency part of the Big 3 rating agency with a global footprint and operations in more than 130 countries across the globe, FITCH is a leader in a certain class of financial instruments credit rating and has created a niche for itself in various segments. The rating agency has a niche in the determination of Loss given default (LGD).
- Standard and Poor (S&P): Among the three S&P is the oldest and the among the most acclaimed credit rating agency with global footprints across the entire world with many of its wholly-owned subsidiaries. Together the rating agency provides credit rating on a variety of Financial Instruments as well as on various segments such as Corporate, SME, etc. to name a few. It provides both short term ratings (which are for instruments with maturity up to 1 year) as well as for Long term ratings (which are for instruments with a maturity of more than 1 year).
- Fitch: Among the top three rating agencies globally, FITCH is the smallest of all and its rating scale is similar to that of Standard and Poor (S&P). The rating agency has a niche in the determination of Probability of Default (PD) across the universe of financial instruments it undertakes rating for.
Bond Ratings and Interest Rates
There is an inverse relationship between the Bond Ratings assigned and the interest rates applicable to the Financial Instrument. The higher the rating grade such as AAA, AA, etc. the lower will be the interest rate due to the higher level of safety for the investors. Similarly lower the rating grade such as BB, B, and so on, the higher will be the interest rate due to the lower level of safety for the investors and higher probability of default.
Importance of Bond Rating
Bond-rating plays an important role. Few noteworthy points are enumerated below:
- It helps investors to make an informed decision regarding the various Bond instruments vis a vis the risk appetite.
- It enables issuers to better project their offerings and differentiate themselves from other issuers.
- It helps in better functioning of the financial markets and enables banks and financial institutions to better manage their capital requirement by investing in the right bonds.
This is a guide to Bond Rating. Here we also discuss the definition and how is the bond rating calculated? along with importance. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –